By Chris Chaney
A United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II National Championship is already paying dividends for the UC Clermont Lady Cougars basketball team as head coach Mike Matthews announced the signing of Georgetown standout MacKenzi Carrington on April 11.
“(Carrington) is a tremendous center/forward, who will play forward in our scheme,” Matthews said. “That (position) was one of the main things we were searching for this year after losing (senior All-American) Stacie Lee, one of our top rebounders.
“MacKenzi continued to get better and better her senior year and played her best down the stretch. She was on a successful team with a good coach and has all the things that we would want and are looking for.”
Carrington averaged 11.8 points per game, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists during her senior season. She was a First Team All-Southern Buckeye Conference selection following her senior campaign. As a junior, Carrington was selected to the conference’s Second Team All-Star team.
Carrington helped lead the Lady G-Men to a 20-5 record in 2013-14, a perfect 10-0 mark in the SBC-National, their 13th consecutive league title, a sectional crown and a district tournament appearance.
Matthews said that Carrington will have some big shoes to fill once she steps on campus at UC Clermont, but she will become interwoven within the fabric of the team, which he believes will help her to succeed.
“Our team functions best as a team, not as individuals,” Matthews explained. “The position that we recruited her for requires her to be very intelligent and have a lot of energy. She’s a team player and while it would be tough for anyone to duplicate Stacie, I think over the course of her career she will do quite well and fit into the style of our team.
“(Carrington) plays the same position (as Lee), but is a different kind of player. She’s a hard worker and smart. Those are things you can always work with.”
Carrington becomes the first piece of the rebuilding puzzle for the Lady Cougars. Coming off of the first women’s basketball national championship in school history, UC Clermont will lose not only Lee, but also fellow All-American Ashley Keith and guard Brooke Catauro to graduation. Matthews said that outside commitments often impact the decision to play basketball for some of his players, so he cannot say with certainty how the roster is shaping up for 2014-15 so far in advance.
While nothing is set in stone, Matthews did say that the national championship victory has been an advantage in recruiting around the area.
“Some body from just about every school has contacted us,” he said. “We’ve had a lot more (interest) this year than ever. I think (the national championship) has a little bit of something to do with it, but you can win the national championship every years and it won’t matter to some girls — they won’t go somewhere just because you’re winning all the time.”
Matthews said he has received inquiries about interest in playing from seniors such as Bailey Workman of New Richmond, Bridget Rheude of Milford, Brooke Corbin from Felicity-Franklin, Marie Lawson of Wilmington, Sydney Doughman of Blanchester and Natasha Barr of West Union, just to name a few.
Still, with a good core returning and with the added publicity and talent that a national championship brings, the Lady Cougars look to be bulking up for another run in 2014-15.